I have always been addicted to skincare products. As an eight year old, one of my favorite things to do in life was to venture to the pharmacy and browse the makeup and skincare aisles for the latest creams. Now that I think about it, this may have been the beginnings of my career as a pharmacist/blogger.
As a 31-year-old working mama, I’m now more selective and educated about the products I use than I may have been a few decades ago. I value effectiveness, simplicity and non-toxic ingredients. A few months ago, I made a commitment to myself to focus on my skincare and establish a consistent routine. The combination of nursing in the middle of the night and work deadlines was taking its toll on my skin, especially when it came to under eye circles.
When I was pregnant, I did a complete detox and stopped using all products. My nighttime routine consisted of brushing my teeth and using a mild cleanser to wash my face. I was extremely cautious. Smells made me nauseous and I just didn’t want to risk using anything. After I stopped nursing, I decided to do my research and look into curating a new skincare routine for tired mamas in mind. My number one requirement was that any product I used had to have non-toxic ingredients.
Below is my current routine broken down by products. I like to change things up depending on how my face feels and what I think it needs that day but for the most part, these are the products that I currently have in rotation.
1. Glossier Milk Jelly
Cleansing is one of the most important things I do for my skin. I wash my face with the Glossier Milk Jelly Cleanser twice a day. I’ve repurchased it three times already and will continue to buy it every time I run out. It’s so important to thoroughly wash all the make-up and grime off your face. Always apply your cleanser to DRY skin. When you massage the cleanser onto your face, it helps break down your makeup and remove all the dirt while stimulating your facial muscles. It’s also gentle enough to use on the eyes so I use it to remove eye make-up as well. Apply the cleanser to the eyes first to get the most make-up dirt off. To dry my face, I use a designed face towel only. I’ve also recently started using cleansing cloths that you can throw in the laundry after each use. I wet the cloth with warm water and then wipe my face. Make sure to use a new one each time so you’re not using a dirty cloth to dry your clean face.
On a day when I’m wearing a lot of make-up or SPF, I’ll do a double cleanse. Some water and a little bit of cleanser will not do the trick here. An additional face wash with an oil cleanser will help you get everything off. I use Skinfix Oil Cleanser. I’ve also heard great things about the L’Occitane Shea Cleansing Oil but I haven’t tried it myself.
We all know how important it is to take off your make-up and wash your face every single day. I never realized how important it was to do it in a really thorough way. Long after my teenage years, I would break out and get huge pimples on my face. I now understand that one of the main reasons I was breaking out was that I wasn’t washing my face properly. In essence, I was going to bed with make-up residue on my face without knowing it. Since I’ve started washing my face WELL, I rarely break out. I now apply my cleanser to dry skin, take my time massaging it into my skin and then use a muslin cloth or face towel to wipe it off.
2. Drunk Elephant
One of the things I love most about Drunk Elephant is their commitment to using only clean ingredients. Their products are formulated without the “suspicious 6” (essential oils, drying alcohols, silicones, chemical screens, fragrance/dyes and SLS). In other words, there are no harmful ingredients such as sulfates, parabens, triclosan, and formaldehydes.
T.L.C Sukari Babyfacial
I don’t think there is one Drunk Elephant product I dislike but I definitely have some favorites. Every Sunday, I use the Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial. This is a cult product and what originally led me to this brand. It’s also the most frequent product I recommend to friends. Babyfacial is an AHA (25%)/BHA (2%) mask that helps improve skin texture and tone for a more youthful appearance. It minimizes the look of fine lines and wrinkles, unclogs pores and reveals radiant, baby-soft skin. I use this once a week for a deep cleaning, put it on for 20 minutes and then wash it all off. Make sure to set your timer and take it slow to avoid having it on for too long. I’ve said it before but I think this is the closest thing to an at-home facial you can get. It’s definitely pricey but to me, it’s worth it. The Babyfacial also comes with a mini Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil, which I like to put on right after for a nice, healthy glow.
*Edit: Babyfacial is not recommended for use by pregnant or nursing mothers. Always check with your doctor before using any new products while pregnant or nursing.
T.L.C Framboos Glycolic Night Serum
On a nightly basis, I use the T.L.C Framboos Glycolic Night Serum. It’s an AHA (12%)/BHA (1%) serum that refines and resurfaces dull skin to reveal a smoother and more radiant complexion. It exfoliates built-up dead skin cells and resurfaces uneven skin for a brighter and more even-looking complexion.
I apply this to my face (avoid the eye area) and neck. When I first started using the serum, I would apply it every other night so that my skin could adjust. Avoid using this with any products containing retinol or retinoids. I like to apply a facial oil and moisturizer a few minutes after the night serum. For my moisturizer, I alternate between Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich and Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream. On the one day per week I use babyfacial, I do not use the glycolic night serum.
3. Sunday Riley
With over 2000 reviews on Sephora, it’s clear that this is a cult-favorite product. Sunday Riley Good Genes is a lactic acid treatment that has anti-aging proprieties with continued use. I use it about 2-3 times a week for a brighter looking appearance. Good Genes has an effect that is almost immediate so people love it. However, the high percentage of lactic acid can be too much for some people so start slow. It is formulated WITHOUT parabens, sulfates and phthalates. On days that I use Good Genes, I do NOT use the Drunk Elephant Glycolic Night Serum. I choose one or the other.
Fair warning, it is expensive so I definitely recommend trying a sample first to make sure you love it before purchasing the standard size. In my twenties, I never would have considered spending this much on skincare products but I have a different mindset now and I’m willing to invest in quality products. Do your research and try samples first so you can make an informed decision.
C.E.O. Brightening Serum
I just started using the C.E.O Brightening Serum so I’ll include my thoughts so far. After washing my face in the morning, I use one pump of the serum, then moisturizer followed by my standard make-up routine. The resulting glow pre-make up reminds me of that look your skin gets in the beginning of a pregnancy. I can see a difference. This is a Vitamin C serum, which has antioxidant properties, helps with dark spots and discolorations and helps fight the first signs of aging caused by stress, pollution, sun and lifestyle related factors. It’s brightening, hydrating and smells good (which isn’t always the case with skincare). I’ve been using it as a day serum since May and will most definitely be restocking when the time comes.
Auto Correct Eye Cream
The Sunday Riley Auto Correct Eye Cream is the newest addition to my skincare routine. I use it in the morning right after the C.E.O. serum to help reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness. Dark under eye circles are my biggest issue because of lack of sleep and you know, kids. I started using an eye cream when I turned thirty, which is right around the time I started having kids and noticing dark circles under my eyes. I use two pumps and lightly tap it onto the skin around my eye area. With most skin products that go on my face, I aggressively massage the product onto my skin to stimulate circulation. However, I am always really gentle around the eye area.
Some of the ingredients include caffeine, horse chestnut extract, Brazilian ginseng root extract and Acmella Oleracea Extract. As a tired mama, this cream helps me look well-rested, even when I’m sleep deprived. Did I mention it has depuffing effects? It’s one of my favorite products at the moment.
4. Biologique Recherche Lotion P50
P50 is an exfoliating toner with incredible skin-changing results. It is a favorite among estheticians, celebrities, and beauty bloggers and for good reason. I’ve been using it for four months now and love it. P50 exfoliates, regulates excessive sebum (skin oil) secretion, shrinks enlarged pore, and balances skin pH. I put a few drops on a cotton pad and apply it on my face and neck. If your skin is sensitive, dampen the cotton pad first and then apply P50. This stuff really works. In terms of the order, I use it after I wash my face and before applying a serum and then moisturizer.
The negative-it smells terrible. I dislike that aspect of it but I’m willing to overlook it because it’s not that big of a deal and the results are fantastic. It’s available at Rescue Spa and Vicki Morav. There are several formulations but the one I use is the newer formulation without phenol.
5. Retinol Reform
What is a retinol and why should you be using one? Retinol is a key ingredient used to stop the signs of aging and reverse previous damage. It helps boost cellular turnover for a bright complexion, makes fine lines softer, and helps blemishes fade away, leading to more youthful and even looking skin. It is so important for preventing wrinkles, color discoloration, and is often used for acne.
A few things to keep in mind-it needs to be used safely and correctly to avoid causing more harm than good. When using a retinol, an SPF is required. Because of cell turnover, your skin is more sensitive to the sun, even on cloudy days. It’s really important that you wear an SPF every day. I put mine on at night only and wash it off in the morning. However, even when washed off, your skin is still sensitive to the sun so you need to use SPF daily. Retinol should NOT be used if you’re pregnant or nursing.
speak to your dermatologist
I use Shani Darden Retinol Reform and have liked the results so far. There are many retinol products on the market but I was drawn to this one because it has a moisturizer base so my skin doesn’t feel as dry as it does with other retinols.
I recommend speaking to your dermatologist to figure out what is best for your skin. If you do end up going with a retinol, it requires a slow transition. I like to start slow and gradually increase how often I use it depending on how my skin feels. It can take several weeks to get used to using a retinol and in the beginning your skin may feel dry and irritated. I use my retinol two to three nights a week, usually every other night. On those nights, I don’t use any other strong products, especially P50. I always avoid using P50 and retinol together. On nights I use Retinol Reform, I use a very small pea-sized amount and spread it all over my face and neck. I then wait about ten minutes and put on moisturizer.
I remember using Retin-A-Micro in high school and my dermatologist had the same recommendations for me-start slow, use SPF and moisturizer. Laying out in the sun when I’m using a retinol is not an option because I know my skin is more sensitive to sun exposure. If you have any questions, let me know and I’ll try to answer them. This is based on my experience and you should always speak to a dermatologist since he/she knows your skin best.
I love putting on a gentle mask and taking a bath after the babies go to sleep. This raspberry and açaí mask by Be Berry is $6.99 and feels so good on my skin. It goes on clear and after waiting 10-15 minutes, I peel it off. This may sound weird but I love the process of peeling it off. It’s oddly satisfying.
I know that is a lot of information but since I have committed to educating myself about skincare, it has made a difference for me. The only time I get breakouts now is if i’m feeling lazy and don’t wash my face before bed. I use minimal makeup now and don’t feel the need to pack on concealer, foundation, and powder. I’m also comfortable not wearing make up if my skin is feeling really great.
With sleep (easier said than done) and water, these products help my skin look and feel good. I like to have a tumbler with me to stay hydrated throughout the day as I’m lifting my 2 year old up and down the stairs. I don’t expect you to purchase all these products at one time so if I had to choose three to start out with, it would be the C.E.O Brightening Serum, Biologique Recherche Lotion P50, and Glossier Milk Jelly. Start out by washing your face really well using the tips above and then go from there depending on what you feel your skin is missing.
Let me know if this post helped and if you have any questions or other skincare tips, leave a note below! Tanya